55 terms

Texas Politics Today: chapter 10

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civil law
deals with private rights and relationships, obligations, and responsibilities. Civil suits are brought by a plaintiff and the aim is a remedy
- today is based in large part on centuries-old English common law.
common law is judge-made law; whether written or unwritten, it is based on precedents
criminal law
is concerned with public morality- concepts of right and wrong as defined by society. In criminal law, the aim is punishment
* plaintiff
the party bringing a civil suit, usually a private person or institution
* remedy
the means used to redress an injury, relief from ongoing injury or compensation for past damages
* precedents
a previously decided legal case used as a guiding principle for future cases
statutory law
is law that has been passed by legislative bodies and is written in codebooks
family law
type of civil law
-Tx courts may require alimony btw the filing and granting of a divorce or when one spouse is incapable of self-support and the marriage has existed at least 10 yrs
-as a community property state, Tx requires that a couple divide property acquired during marriage, and one spouse is not usually responsible for the other's support after divorce
--children have the right to be supported by both parents
-state licenses can now be revoked from parents who are delinquent in child support
Real estate law
-titles to real property, like land and buildings, are registered in the office of the county clerk, and the legitimate use of any property by its owner is enforceable in the courts
-a person cannot lose a title to a homestead in a civil suite except to satisfy tax liens, home-improvement loans, mortgage loans for initial purchase of the property, or home equity loans
-protected family homestead includes the home and 200 acres of land in rural areas/ 10 acres in the city
*probate
& probabte law
to determine that will is the last and valid will of the deceased
-if the deceased departed w/out leaving a will, civil law defines the right to inherit among various relatives;if there are no living relatives, the property passes to the state
-the right to inherit, bequeath, sell, lease, or transfer property is protected by law, but the rights of ownership do not include the privelege of misuse
business regulations
state regulatory agencies include the Texas Railroad
Commission, the Commissioner of Insurance, the Texas Finance Commission, the Public Utilities Commission, and occupational licensing boards
- enforced by civil rather than criminal courts
corporate law
-secure permission from the state to conduct business, the secretary of state issues a charter
- civil law holds that when a corp. is chartered, a new legal person is created-one who can sue, be sued, or be fined for criminal activity
-attorney general is responsible for bringing civil suits to see injuctions to end violations of the Tx antitrust
and consumer protection laws
* charter
the organizing document for corporations or a municipalities, which defines their structure, purposes, and activities
* injunctions
court orders to compel or prohibit specific actions
labor law
two parties enter a valid contract, the courts will enforce the terms of contract
-ex:contracts with minors are not enforceable in the courts
-right-to-work laws
- b/c of ^ TX is considered inhospitable to unions
* right-to-work laws
laws that prohibit contracts btw labor and management that est. a closed shop or union shop
Torts
persons may be held liable when their negligence results in someone's bodily harm/other injury
-negligence
-tort
civil law protects a persons reputation against false and malicious statements
-slander (spoken defamation)/ libel (published defamation) may result in a lawsuit
-law effectively extends the protection against libel to vegetables, and farmers may sue people who make unfounded allegations
*negligence
failure to act with the prudence or care that an ordinary person would exercise
* tort
a private or civil wrong or injury other than a breach of contract
* tort reform
efforts to limit liability in civil cases
- Former Gov. Rick Perry and most Republican leaders joined with groups representing defendants in civil actions, the Tx Civil Justice League, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, insurance companies, a range of business and medical interest groups urge tort reform
-b/c of ^ Tx has restricted lawsuits by prison inmates, has given judges the poer to dismiss frivolous lawsuits, has limited liability in civil cases involving multiple defendants and has capped jury awards for punitive damages
- against this reform: Public Citizen, Texas Watch, Texans for Public Justice, the Tx Trial Lawyers Association, and most Democratic Party leaders
- argue that isolated anecdotal instances of lawsuit abuse should not be used as a justification to restrict the fundamental right to trial by jury
-make lawyers reluctant to take the risk of bringing costly and time-consuming lawsuits against well-funded corporations
-under TX new "loser pay" system, if either party refused an out-of-court settlement and if the jury awards damages significantly different from the settlement offer, the loser must pay all of the "winner's" legal expenses in the case
*punitive damages
judgments in excess of actual damages intended to punish a defendant in civil suit
liability insurance
automobile insurance is one area for tort reform that the TX legislature has not seriously considered
-no-fault insurance plan would allow and insured person to collect damages from the individuals own insurance company regardless of who is at fault in an accident
- under Tx's liability insurance plan, an expenisve and time-consuming legal effort is often required to determine which of the individuals involved in an accident is to blame and thus legally responsible for damages
* eminent domain
when government takes private property for public use
- Kelo v. City of New London Connecticut, (2005), the US Supreme Court interpreted public use to include private commercial development as long as it benefits the community as a whole. The court approved seizing private residences to make way for a resort hotel, office building, and posh apartments
elements of crime
An act of Congress provides that federal offenses include crimes
1. committed on the high seas
2.committed on federal property , territories, and reservations
3. involving the crossing of state/national boundaries
4. interfering with interstate commerce
5. committed against the national government or its employees while they are engaged in official duties
the crime
crime is an act that violates whatever authorized body defines as the law
-felonies,misdemeanors, victimless crimes
*felonies
serious crimes punishable by state institutions
-Tx makes it illegal to wear a bulletproof vest while committing murder
- murder, is the illegal, willful killing of another human being
-robbery is attempting to take something from a person by force or threat of force
*misdemeanors
minor crimes punishable by a county jail sentence or fine
-possession of tobacco by minors is outlawed
-most traffic violations-fine is a form of punishment
* victimless crimes
crimes whose victims are the criminals themselves
- prostitution, gambling, and illegal drug possession
the criminal
-failing to accept social values
- mores
-lawbreakers are typically young, poor, and members of racial/ethnic minority groups;many having acute emotional and social problems
-age
-lack the sense of responsibility that usually goes with a job/family
-fbi index crimes
-TX juvenile facilities not only fail to correct but also serve as breeding grounds for adult crime
-gender
- far more men than women are arrested; 2012 90% were men arrested for murder, 86 for robbery, and 78 for aggravated assault
-ethnicity
- African Am. 44% robbery, 32 murder, 26 rape.
- Latinos 40% murder, 40 rape, 33 robbery
-income & education
- poverty experienced by disproptionately by ethnic minorities
- poor education
-urban life
- crime more likely in large metropolitan areas
- a majority of inmates in Tx prisons are from San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston areas
-drug addiction
- at least 1/3 of all crimes are committed under the influence
-white-collar crime
-often punished less severely
* mores
society's strong beliefs about right or wrong
*FBI index crimes
crimes used as a national barometer of the crime rate- murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, grand theft, and motor vehicle theft
*white-collar crime
crimes such as bribery, tax fraud, business fraud, price-fixing, and embezzlement, which are usually committed by more prosperous people
ex: Bernie Madoff, R. Allen Sandford,
the victim
highest rates of victimization occur in poor sections of cities
-often in neighborhoods against friends and families of the criminal
victims have rights to be informed of investigations and court proceeding
-Tx Crime Victims' Compensation Fund is administered by the attorney general and financed by small fees collected from criminals when they are convicted
* due process
proper procedures designed to promote justice and protect the individual from the government. Due process is essential to guaranteeing fairness before the government may deprive a person of life, liberty, or property
searches
14th amendment prohibit "unreasonable" searches
-probable cause
-exclusionary rule
*probable cause
sufficient information to lead a "reasonable person" to believe that evidence is probably contained on the premises and thus a warrant for the invasion of privacy is justified
*exclusionary rule
evidence acquired in violation of the 14th Amendment may not be admitted in federal courts
- the case that established this was the US Supreme Court case in 1914, Weeks v. United States
-in 1961 case of Mapp v. Ohio, the US Supreme Court held the exclusionary rule also to be essential to the "due process of law" that the 14th amendment requires states to respect
-US v. Leon; under the "good faith" rule, US supreme court evidence may be admitted when law enforcement agents acted on a search warrant they believed valid even if it wasnt
-Nix v. Williams; improperly obtained evidence may also be admitted under the "inevitable discovery" rules of agents otherwise would have discovered the evidence during their routine legal investigation
Detention
the right to remain silent
- Miranda v. Arizona
* arraignment
A prisoner's initial appearance before a magistrate in which the charges and basic rights are explained
-explain the charges against the accused
-remind them of their rights to remain silent
-set bail
-inform of their right to examine trial
*bail
The security deposit required for the release of a suspect awaiting trial
right to an attorney
1932 the US Supreme Court ruled the 6th amendment requires the state courts to appoint counsel to the poor , but only in capital cases
*examining trial
An initial court hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to send a case to a grand jury
* voir dire questioning
The initial questioning of jurors to determine possible biases.
* adversary system
The legal system used in English-speaking countries in which two contesting parties present opposing views and evidence in a court of law.
* compulsory process
The power to seize evidence and to force witnesses to testify under oath.
*probation
A judge's sentence of an offender to serve outside a correctional institution but under specific restrictions, often under the supervision of a probation officer.
post trial proceedings
a person who is acquitted cannot be tried again for the same offense
the appeals process
special case of juvenile courts
Texas replaced all adult criminal procedures in juvenile cases with special civil procedures.
Children as young as 14 may be certified to stand trial as adults
* parole
After an initial say in prison, prisoners serving the remainder of their sentences under supervision in the community.
-not automatically granted
-less expensive than incarceration
misdemeanor punishment
Those convicted of the misdemeanors for which confinement is prescribed will serve their terms in jails operated by local governments, usually counties.
juvenile rehabilitaion
Most juvenile offenders are handled by county authorities. They are usually detained in county facilities before a disposition of the case, and minor offenders are then released (on probation) to the custody of parents or placed in county facilities
clemency
Three types of clemency are available:
Pardon: designed to absolve a citizen from the legal consequences of his or her crime.
Commutation of sentence: a reduction in punishment.
Reprieve: a temporary interruption of punishment.
evaluating punishment and rehabilitation policies
Justice including punishment (or social vengeance) is society's way of settling accounts with those who have violated its norms. The concept of justice normally requires that punishment should fit the crime.
Isolation of criminals from the law-abiding population is designed to protect society from future crimes. Yet for most crimes, society is unwilling to prescribe the permanent imprisonment of convicted criminals.
Deterrence of criminals is society's effort at discouraging criminal behavior by threat of punishment; society uses punishment of convicted criminals as an example to discourage would-be lawbreakers.
Rehabilitation of convicted criminals is supposed to allow those who are ultimately released to take useful and noncriminal roles in society-- the effort to correct criminals' antisocial attitudes and behavior.
*deterrence
discouraging criminal behavior by threat of punishmetn
*rehabilitaion
the effort to correct criminals' antisocial attitudes and behavior
*recidivists
repeat offenders who have relapsed into crime
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